Detective Pikachu (2019): ‘The Ryan Reynolds Take’ – A Film Review



Pokémon is a hugely successful game series by Nintendo about monsters that can fit in your pockets and be used to battle other pokémon. Almost instantly Pikachu became one of the most popular and was considered to be one of the cutest pokémon. This was helped by the anime series based upon one of the games. It’s popularity spawned a film series, which has quickly became a huge series in itself with 22 titles. Most of which were aimed at children and fans of the anime series. Tied into all of this success, was again a popular trading card game which had special editions of some of the characters and was used in the marketing campaign for the original film series. This only helped the huge popularity of the franchise. It’s actually surprising that a live action version wasn’t produced before. In Detective Pikachu we will also see Ryan Reynolds the star of Deadpool as the cute little pokémon – quite an odd choice for a children orientated franchise.


The Personality

Sufficed to say Ryan Reynolds is perfect, awkward and unique all at once. He manages to give a certain amount of personality to Pikachu, whilst also having moments of being a bit too adult. Ryan Reynolds has become someone who is just too big and distracting to seamlessly become a pokémon. Fortunately, it’s possible to get past this and enjoy the amount of personality he imbues in Pikachu – it’s just an odd choice. The film though, feels to be trying to match this tone. Detective Pikachu is mindful of the nostalgia felt by many of the first movie’s fans and not necessarily about the children orientated franchise as a whole. This is perhaps best if they’re looking to step away from the 22 other animated films, but it is a daring step non the less. Such references are mirrored by a Mr. Mime as he references Basic Instinct in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.


Worlds Apart

Similar to this, the visual effects are both perfect and awkward. It looks realistic and well done, also visually stunning. However, giving life to these creatures, in a way that is meant to look realistic, will always tread far too closely to the uncanny valley. It’s a good look but you have to buy it. Whilst this is happening the story treads an all too familiar path. It is a nod to detective stories with a bit of a simplistic edge, making it largely predictable. This being said, the characters and performances are good enough for this to never be too distracting from the immersive experience of a world with pokémon.



Great but perhaps with a cautionary edge. Detective Pikachu will work perhaps most of all because it is a massive film of fan service. Though there are many pokémon characters missing (but there’s far too many to choose from), there are enough of the popular ones so that it strikes a chord with its target audience. Helping this is the very many nods to the first Pokémon film, Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back, both within Detective Pikachu and with the marketing for it. It’s perhaps every 90s kid’s dream to see a serious treatment of Pikachu, Mewtwo, Gengar, Charizard and so many other pokémon.



Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) loses his father in a car accident and has to look after his belongings, where he finds a Pikachu with amnesia and clues that his father may actually still be alive.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Basic Instinct (d. Paul Verhoeven France/USA/UK 1992)

Deadpool (d. Tim Miller USA 2016)

Detective Pikachu (d. Rob Letterman USA/Japan/Canada 2019)

Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back (d. Kunihiko Yuyama, Michael Haigney Japan 1998)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Ryan Reynolds

Interview with Rob Letterman

Interview with the Cast

Behind the Scenes


Easter Eggs

Mr. Mime

The Outtakes that Could Make an R-Rated Cut

Realistic Pokémon


If you liked this

Deadpool 2 (2018): ‘Marvels Loving Self Parody Sequel’ – A Film Review

Deadpool (2016) – A Film Review

Tomb Raider (2018): ‘Video Games as Films’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Detective Pikachu (d. Rob Letterman USA/Japan/Canada 2019)

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